Texas court denies DNA test for death row inmate
Six days before his execution date, a Texas death row inmate was dealt another blow Thursday as a court denied a request for DNA testing he claims would prove his innocence.
Hank Skinner was convicted of bludgeoning his girlfriend to death and fatally stabbing two of her children. Barring a reprieve, his execution has been set for November 9.
Skinner, 49, has not denied being present in the home at the time of the killings but he has insisted that DNA collected at the site could clear him as a suspect in the 1993 crimes.
Attorney Robert Owen told AFP his client was "deeply disappointed" at the US District Court's ruling but "hopeful" it would be overturned. He plans to ask an appeals court to reconsider the request.
Texas has refused to carry out the tests on evidence found at the home ever since a jury convicted him in 1995.
"Skinner is relying on the same 'new' evidence that this court rejected" previously, prosecutors said, adding that the convict "could not show a reasonable probability that further testing would exonerate him."
The US Supreme Court granted a stay of Skinner's execution less than an hour before he was due to be put to death last year. The high court sent the case back to a lower court to rule on Skinner's DNA testing request.
Skinner, who has spent 16 years on death row, has maintained his innocence since the beginning and has pleaded with authorities for over a decade to test DNA he says could prove that someone else killed the trio.
The state has long refused, citing a restrictive state DNA testing law. But lawmakers made changes to the law this year that lifted many of the restrictions.
Last week, a group of current and former elected officials, prosecutors and judges urged Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate, to delay the execution to allow for DNA testing.
Skinner has also enjoyed 10 years of support from Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess, who has rerun the investigation with his students as part of the school's "innocence project."
Protess said DNA tests on Skinner would clear the death row inmate if compared to DNA found on the victims.
Skinner is now married to death penalty activist Sandrine Ageorges, who is French.
© 2011 AFP